Mark Frieder Hill

by Carol Hill Quirk
(Viera, Florida)

My father, Mark F. Hill, was a B-24 navigator in the Army Air Corps 376 Heavy Bomber Group, 513 squadron. He enlisted January 23, 1941, at the age of 25 and retired from service as a captain in 1944 after flying 50 bombing missions from North Africa over Italy, Greece, Germany, and the communist countries of Eastern Europe. He was one of few navigators chosen to return to the States for radar training in the middle of his enlistment. By the time of his detachment, he had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and a number of other medals.
Mark kept a 180-page journal (Journal of a Draftee) of his time in the military. The journal and his other war documents were donated to The New York Military Museum in Saratoga Springs, NY, in 2008.
As a Princeton graduate and an English major, his journaling is highly descriptive and often captivating. He was a deep thinker, a lover of God, with a thoughtful perspective of life, which was evident in his journal.
After the war, Mark Hill married Mary Lou Hills, and they began life together in Boston, later moving to Connecticut. He was involved in sales, but he loved the simple pleasures of life: vegetable gardening, canoeing and camping, writing poetry, teaching his three daughters tennis and golf, watching the Red Sox, collecting rustic antiques and crafting things out of stained glass. He gave his all as a navigator and saw the ugly side of life, but when that was done, he surely retreated to the quieter things of life. He died far too early, at 66, of some undiagnosed disease. He never spoke about the war, but had copies of his journal printed for each of his girls.
On December 2, 1943 he wrote:
"Up until the time the doors opened all was peaceful as a still day on a lake. Then suddenly the whole sky around us bloomed into a field of flak - that bursting black flower that spews out seeds of steel. The railroad yards lay below, long and narrow, a crucial target.... After our bombs fell, I saw thick surges of smoke rising from the yards. Anti-aircraft fire continued...like bothersome flies it trailed us, stinging wings and fuselages. One sharp piece cracked glass in the nose section -- a few feet from my head that time. Klosky had a clean hole put in his top turret plexiglass. Fay's rear turret caught fire.... McVey's electric suit burned out a coil and he drifted into a semi-conscious state. With all these troubles, we started back. Over hostile land, every minute seems an hour. Tension as tight as piano strings...."
On December 20, 1943:
"The large bomber burst into flames, then fell like a wounded elephant as the other wind wrenched off. A billowing explosion of red, yellow and green colors shot upwards. Everything burst out into the sky, littering it with airplane parts. The ME 109 lost a wing and hurtled through space, tumbling like a football. I saw its pilot sitting rigid in his cockpit when the severed plane fled past our window. The B-24, dropping straight towards the earth, was a pitiful sight -- it was so helpless when it usually looks so proud in the air. It exploded once more...."
"In most ways, war is stupid, but if a young man does come through, he can gain deeper knowledge of himself."

How grateful I am that this good man did come through.

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Jun 22, 2019
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No More 'Soft Life'
by: Another Daughter

I can vouch for my sister's reflections on our dad, who was indeed a good, pure-hearted man.

Her entry prompted me to reread parts of his diary. What I noticed this time is the way Dad describes how the experiences he went through with his comrades toughened him -- but in the right sort of way.

Here are a few of his entries to that effect, written after his initial three-week officers training period.

* * * * *

22 February 1941

I discovered at home that I had changed. The Army had hardened me and given me a better sense of self-discipline. Bothersome things once so important at home seemed trivial.

. . .

23 February 1941

I try to tell [family and friends] that it is a great experience, rugged, full of horse play, friendship, boredom and some stupidity -- all in all a good thing for guys who have had a soft life and need to learn how others live and think.

. . .

[After graduating from "boot camp" with his fellow recruits, he is sent to specialty school.]

7 March 1941

Am I getting used to this institution? No longer do I go through the day with complaints packed away in my head like a stuffed barracks bag. I have taken an attitude of acceptance, instinctively, I suppose, in order to stay sane. Things still go wrong, orders are confused, sergeants and corporals still look out on the world, to our way of thinking, as though they were always eating sour apples, and we planted the trees. But you can get along with a sense of humor -- and that is what I plan to cultivate.

. . .

[As a bombadier navigator, Dad was sent to Biggs Field, El Paso, and assigned to a B-24, a four-engine bomber called a Liberator. The following was written in the spring of 1943.]

Within a week I was assigned to a crew, . . . with whom I will soon face the enemy in the air. What are they like?

Bill Ashburn is our pilot. He is from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, married, ambitious, enthusiastic and energetic. He seems to be a leader. He is blond and of medium height.

Ben Bell, our co-pilot, was a pursuit pilot and calls the B-24 a baggage car. He speaks with the cowboy lingo of an Oklahoman. He gives us lots of laughs, but doesn't cotton to any remarks about his small stature.

As for Hart, the bombadier, I don't think he is going to be with us long. He doesn't seem teh combat airman type.

[Marlowe] Berg, the chief engineer, is 24 years old but looks younger. He is quiet, efficient and slips around the ship fixing things without fuss; he knows his job well.

The assistant engineer, [Arthur] McVey, is a Scotchman from Pennsylvania who has a ready wit, but does not make as much noise as some other members of the crew.

The chief gunner, [John] Masciewicz, is tougher than the others and someone you would want on your side in a fight, and we are going into one. Masciewicz doesn't mind telling officers where to go if they interfere with his work; consequently, he may be headed for trouble. He talks a lot, thinks he knows a lot, but gets his feelings hurt easily. However, he knows his job well, and we are glad to have him on our crew.

I consider the assistant gunner, [Harry] Fay, the learned one among the enlisted men. He wants to know everything and currently is dabbling in navigation. He can also tell stories for hours with a midwestern brand of dry humor.

The radio operator fits in well with the whole crew and seems to be the one to whom the rest listen. [Bernard] Klosky, from Pittsburgh, is stubborn but many times right in his opinions. The officers, I notice, treat him with extra respect.

* * * * *

That's all for now. Someday, I hope the diary will be online, so anyone who is interested can read it in its entirety.

Hat's off to our dad and to all the men with whom he served in combat so valiantly.




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376 ARCHIVES

The website 376bg.org is NOT our site nor is it our endowment fund.

At the 2017 reunion, the board approved the donation of our archives to the Briscoe Center for American History, located on the University of Texas - Austin campus.

Also, the board approved a $5,000 donation to add to Ed Clendenin's $20,000 donation in the memory of his father. Together, these funds begin an endowment for the preservation of the 376 archives.

Donate directly to the 376 Endowment

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My Trip to San Pancrazio

October 2019


2019 River Cruise


2020 REUNION

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CITY : TBD

HOTEL: TBD

2020 hotel reservations


previous reunions

For Sale

The Other Doolittle Raid


The Liberandos


Three Crawford Brothers


Liberando: Reflections of a Reluctant Warrior


376th Bomb Group Mission History


The Last Liberator


Full Circle


Shadows of Wings


Ten Men, A "Flying Boxcar," and A War


I Survived Ploesti


A Measure of Life


Shot Down In Yugoslavia


Stories of My Life


Attack


Born in Battle